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Wednesday, December 06, 2023
<p>Florida volunteer coach Katie Ledecky swims freestyle during a competition in a meet against Georgia Friday Oct. 29, 2021.</p>

Florida volunteer coach Katie Ledecky swims freestyle during a competition in a meet against Georgia Friday Oct. 29, 2021.

The start of the 2024 Olympic cycle begins for 17 members of the Gators swim program at the United States Open in Greensboro, North Carolina beginning this Wednesday, the first USA Swim Open events since the 2020 Olympics this past summer. 

Coming off a first-place finish for the men and a second-place finish for the women against top-ranked competition at the Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta, the Gators harbor momentum as the season picks up with two events in December.

Florida’s men and women will compete individually, but strong performances would serve as further testament to the skill of the now-No. 5 men’s collegiate team and No. 8 women’s team in the November CSCAA Top 25

Joining the Gators is Olympic legend Katie Ledecky. The seven-time Olympic gold medalist made the move from her alma mater Stanford to Gainesville to train under Gators coach Anthony Nesty in September. The open marks her first event since assuming the position of volunteer swim coach at UF. 

Future Gator Eric Brown will compete this week. Brown will represent the Pointe-Claire swim club from Quebec City, Canada. Brown signed his letter of intent to Florida in November and sits as the 22nd ranked male swimmer in the class of 2022, according to Swimcloud.

Expectations will be high for Florida star Bobby Finke, the two-time Olympic gold medalist. Finke will follow up a record-breaking performance in the 800 meter freestyle after securing the fastest American time ever at the 2020 Tokyo games. He is seeded first in two additional events.

UF junior Trey Freeman is also looking for a positive performance. Following his first-ever Olympic games this past summer, Freeman is seeded first in the 400m free and second in the 200m free. Fellow junior Alfonso Mestre is also seeded top-three in two separate events.

On the women’s side, Talia Bates will attempt to reload after missing out on a spot on the US Olympic roster at wave two of the 2020 Olympic trials. The Florida junior is seeded within the top 10 of three individual events. 

The US Open is oriented around individual times as preparations begin for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, but with many Gators participating, it would bolster the team if the attending members find success.

The U.S Open kicks off on Dec. 1 at 6:00 p.m. in Greensboro, NC. 

Contact Jackson Castellano at Find him on Twitter @jaxacastellano.

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Jackson Castellano

Jackson Castellano is a junior sports media journalism student at UF and the Senior News Director at The Alligator for Fall 2023. In the past, he's served as the Sports Editor, Assistant Sports Editor and a Sports Reporter covering Football, Men's basketball and Baseball.

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